What To Do When Your Job Is Killing You
Updated: Jan 23, 2020
That constant pit in your stomach.
That terrible feeling when you wake up exhausted in the morning.
Those restless nights, anxiety-fueled dreams, and feeling like you’ll never freaking get out of this nightmare.
Yes, that’s right: It feels like your job is killing you.
But what on earth do you DO about it?
I get it. I’ve had those moments where I used to wake up and absolutely dread going to work (those moments where you stay in bed because you can’t imagine doing this for another day, miss your chance to shower, and then wanly throw on some dry hair shampoo, a bun, and extra blush and hope that no one notices.
And the worst part about it is feeling stuck in a hamster-wheel rut of despair.
Here’s what to do when your job is killing you:
Okay, here’s step one:
Step one is to repeat this mantra to yourself – “I don’t have to stay in a job that is killing me. I deserve something better, and I will find it.”
I’ve seen person after person in my life and client after client justify staying in a bad job because they keep getting told by “helpful” people that a bad job is the best they can hope for (or that work is work and you aren’t supposed to enjoy it).
So repeat after me: A job that is draining your will to live is NOT the best you can hope for.
And I’ve seen people justify staying somewhere awful because of fear, anxiety or doubt. They don’t believe that there is truly better for them.
Repeat after me one more time: There IS something better.
THERE IS SOMETHING BETTER (and you deserve it!).
Step two is more simple than you think
Once you say the above mantras as many times as you need it’s time to move on to step two.
I want you to make a list.
A simple, 2 minute list about what drains you the most about your ENTIRE life right now. Be really really specific (for instance: Just saying “work” isn’t helpful. What specifically about your job and life is causing you the most pain?).
It can range from buying groceries, to your commute, to your boss, to your spouse, to your children, to your resume – which when you think about it makes you want to immediately lay down.
Make that list with brutal honesty. Hiding from the truth won’t help you change.
Step three involves sleeping more.
Then, I want you to take a day off. Ideally a week off, but start with a few days if you can. Talk to your boss, call in sick, take a personal day off if that’s how your company structures the benefits package – seriously, you have my permission.
Your job is killing you. You deserve the day.
Plan it right now.
Got it? Okay.
Your first order of business is to get a good night of sleep. If you can sleep in, do it. Light a meditative candle, turn off the tv early, take a bath or drink warm milk, put in ear plugs, and relax as much as you can.
Nothing is possible without sleep, but for career stuff it is 100% necessary.
So, plan how you are going to put yourself to bed on the night before this day off. Put that plan into action.
Step four will help get clarity.
Step four involves that list. Get it back out. Take a look at alllll the things that really stress you out. Maybe your list looks something like this:
I can’t stand my boss and she makes me sick to my stomach.
The commute is driving me insane.
Cleaning the house is taking away all of my free time.
I need more help on my project because I literally can’t keep up with the workload. Email especially is the problem.
My children are at an age that I don’t understand and I’m not sure I can cope with cooking them dinner every night and still keep my sanity.
Now take a hard look at that list. What on it can you: a) Delegate or outsource, or
b) Stop doing entirely (if even for a short time).
When your job is dragging you down, and your life is dragging you down, it’s impossible to see a way out. We need to lighten the load as much as possible to give you space to breathe and figure all of this out. THERE IS NO JUDGEMENT HERE.
The alternative – letting your job impact your health and destroy your soul – is far far worse.
So – looking at the above list as an example, you may want to:
Turn off your email for an hour at a time, and put on an out-of-office telling people to call you if they need immediate help.
Get a baby-sitter or spouse to help with dinner. And give your kids whatever is the easiest thing possible that they will eat for a few weeks.
Stop cleaning your house for a few weeks (or hire a cleaning service if you have the budget).
Pitch telecommuting to work to try and calm that part of your life (and get distance from your boss).
You get the idea.
You won’t be able to deal with everything, but it will be a start…and a start is all you need!
Step five is scary but worth it
So going back to our mantra that you WILL find something better and you deserve it – it’s time to job search. Step four let us lighten your load a bit, and remove some of the stressors. If you have a financial cushion and can take a vacation or leave from your current job to start looking for the next one (and recovering from what’s happened now) please consider taking some sort of real break.
If you can’t take a break from work, or are out of vacation, then see if you can delegate a little more to free up time.
And then get ready to find something new. Here’s a whole set of blogs to help with that.
Try and put two hours a week on your calendar to find new job openings and network. Start by shooting out an email to friends and family to tell them that you are looking, and what kind of job you are looking for to see if they can help connect you.
Sometimes all you need is a triage job to feel like your life has changed dramatically.
Now take a deep breath, work the steps, and start to feel better.
You CAN DO THIS!
I’m sure of it.
Want more help to figure out what you actually *want* to do, instead of holding onto a job that you hate? Send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Its what I do. It won't break the bank. It can change your life. You are not alone. And things can get better!